French translation of a song in English

Ginny Weasley   Saturday, April 10, 2004, 21:16 GMT
Hello, everyone!

Recently, just for pure fun, I translated the song "You are sixteen, going on seventeen" (from Sound of Music) into French. If you know French, can you please check my translation for grammatical errors and tell me if it makes sense? I had to cut out a few articles and prepositions that I would normally use because they'd either be one syllable too many or destroy the rhythm. Also, this is NOT a literal translation. So, corrections and suggestions please!!!

"Tu as seize ans, presque dix-sept ans. Bébé, il faut penser.
Fais attention, sois prudent et sage. Bébé, tu es au bord.
Tu as seize ans, presque dis-sept ans; garçons t'adoreront
Jeunes garçons et goujats t'offriront le boire et le manger.
Mal préparé es-tu pour affronter le monde des hommes.
Timide, peureuse es-tu envers des choses qui te dépasse.
Il te faut quelqu'un de plus grand pour te montrer la route.
J'ai dix-sept ans, presque dix-huit ans. Je prendrai soin de toi!"

"Oui, j'ai seize ans, presque dix-sept ans; je suis vraiment naïve.
On me dit que je suis très mignonne, et volontiers je le crois.
Oui, j'ai seize ans, presque dix-sept ans, innocente comme une rose.
Jeunes vaniteux et buveurs de cognac- qu'est-ce que je sais d'eux donc?
Mal préparé suis-je pour affronter le monde des hommes.
Timide, peureuse suis-je envers des choses qui me dépasse.
Il me faut quelqu'un de plus grand pour me montrer la route.
T'as (i.e. "tu as") dix-sept ans, presque dix-huit ans. J'aurai confiance en toi!"

Thanks to everyone in advance!
- Ginny Weasley
Ginny Weasley   Saturday, April 10, 2004, 21:19 GMT
Typo in line 3 of the song: "presque diX-sept ans".
Grammatical error in line 6: "les choses qui te dépassENT."
Lavoisel   Sunday, April 11, 2004, 00:35 GMT
Hi Ginny,

I never new they teach French at Hogwarts. Obviously, their French teacher is skilled. Your command of the language is wicked!

Here are some corrections I'd suggest for the sentences to sound more natural though:

"Il faut penser" => "Réfléchis" or "Réfléchis bien".

"sois prudent et sage" => "sois sage et prudente" (It's not a rule, and I am just being a crazy, hard to please lad here, but if you put the shorter adjective before the longer, it sounds more beautiful; "prudent" becomes "prudente" if it refers to a girl).

"Tu as seize ans, presque dis-sept ans" => I'd contract "Tu as" into "T'as" so that it sounds more spoken. Once again, this not compulsory at all, just my personal preference. "T'as seize ans presque 17 ans".

"Garçons t'adoreront" => Without the article it sounds weird. Maybe you could reduce "t'as 16 ans presque 17 ans" into "t'as 16 ans presque 17". It wouldn't sound incorrect in a song. If you do so, I'm sure you will have enough room for the missing "le".

"le boire et le manger." => "à boire et à manger".

"préparé" => "préparée"

"je sais d'eux donc" => "je sais donc d'eux"

You also often use the reverse forme ("Timide, peureuse suis-je"), which is correct but a bit formal. Maybe you could use the more common form instead? "Je suis peureuse, timide"...

Also, it may help you to know that "je suis" (2 syllables) is often contracted into "j'suis" (1 syllable) in spoken French, and therefore in the French songs as well. If you need to rearrange some sentences, you may want to use this tip. ;-)

Oh, and I almost forgot that one: "tu es au bord". It sounds like an English phrase that doesn't translate well into French. What was the original sentence?
Ginny Weasley   Sunday, April 11, 2004, 07:21 GMT
Salut Lavoisel,

Merci mille fois for your corrections! Apparently, they don't teach French at Hogwarts but I learnt French over three summer holidays from a Beauxbâtons professor who's a friend of my dad's.

I'll use "réfléchis bien" and "à boire et à manger" and correct the "préparée" grammatical error. Thank you so much for pointing out "préparéE"; I can't believe I was so careless.

I'll still use "sois prudente et sage" (with the grammatical error corrected) because if I used "sois sage et prudente", the accented note would fall on "et", which doesn't sound right.

Instead of changing line three into "t'as seize ans...", perhaps I could use "les garçons t'aimeront" instead of "garçons t'adoreront". What do you think?

Instead of "qu'est-ce que je sais donc d'eux", I'm thinking about using "que sais-je de ces types?". It sounds less awkward. What do you think?

I used the reverse form "timide, peureuse suis-je envers..." because the common form doesn't go well with the melody, which was written to the English reverse form "timid and shy and scared am I", which is also a bit formal but understandably so, since it was written in the 1960s for a story that was supposed to take place in the 1930s.

"Tu es au bord" was originally "you're at the brink" in English. I don't know what "you're at the brink" was supposed to mean (i.e. at the brink of what?) so I simply looked up "brink" in the English-French dictionary and found "le bord".

If I'm not mistaken, I think the French version of "The Sound of Music" is called "La Mélodie du bonheur". It's about a family of aristocratic Austrian patriots and their governess singing random songs and escaping from the Nazis. I don't like the film; I only like two of the songs.

Again, merci mille fois!
- Ginny Weasley
Ginny Weasley   Sunday, April 11, 2004, 07:28 GMT
By the way, Lavoisel, you can read the original English lyrics and hear the melody MIDI at . I didn't translate the first verse ("You wait, little girl...").
Lavoisel   Monday, April 12, 2004, 00:59 GMT
Je suis content que mon aide te fasse plaisir !
Many of my questions about English were answered in this forum, especially by Mjd. So if I can help someone in return that's great.

So, it took you only six months to reach this good French level? Amazing! This is just like magic! ;-)

<<Instead of changing line three into "t'as seize ans...", perhaps I could use "les garçons t'aimeront" instead of "garçons t'adoreront". What do you think? >>

Well, in that context, I think the progressive future would suit better because the expected event is to happen soon. "Les garçons vont t'aimer". But of course, this is not really what you need, because it would make the sentence longer. In the other hand, "les garçons t'aimeront" may sounds almost like a prediction, which would suit the formal tone of the reverse form.

<<Instead of "qu'est-ce que je sais donc d'eux", I'm thinking about using "que sais-je de ces types?". It sounds less awkward. What do you think? >>

Good idea indeed! The sentence seems to flow with easyness. I like it. The former is a bit jerky, due to the repetition of the "qu" sound.

However, I have a problem with the word "bébé" which is almost never used to call people above four in French. Maybe "chérie" would do?

Thank you for the link. I am not too fond of the lyrics because they depict an old fashioned vision of the role of man and woman that I dislike.
However, I liked the tune. Thank you for letting the link to the midi.
It's a really good job you made. I am not too sure I would be that good if I tried and translated a French song into English.
You were right about the name of the French version of the film, by the way. :-)

Au fait, n'hésites pas à corriger mon anglais si quoique ce soit est incorrect.

@+ ( <= Did you know that? It's an internet shorcut for "à plus", which is itself a shorcut for "à plus tard").
Crab Bloke   Monday, April 12, 2004, 01:10 GMT
Who cares? the french language blows
Lavoisel   Monday, April 12, 2004, 01:41 GMT
This may be your view Crab, but I just love both English and French and apparently, I am not the only one. French is my native language and I like how despite the years spent speaking it, there still seem to be mysterious words I don't know. Reading is still a rewarding experience, because I still come across some ways of putting the things I wouldn't have thought of.
English is also mysterious, but differently, for I have to learn almost everything at the same time. However, I'm proud of the level I already have reached.
What about you Crab? Do you learn a second language?
Ginny Weasley   Monday, April 12, 2004, 02:37 GMT
Salut Lavoisel,

Encore, merci mille fois! Tu m'as enseigné beaucoup. En plus, ton anglais est beaucoup mieux que mon français.

Moi aussi, je n'apprécie pas la vision démodée des rôles des hommes et des femmes dans la société. Je ne suis pas de tout naïve et je ne laisserai pas les hommes à former ma vie. Je ressentis la protection de mes parents et de mes frères: j'ai déjà fait face à monsieur tu-sais-qui et je continuerai à lutter contre lui. Néanmoins, la mélodie de cette chanson est encore charmante.

Six mois?? Je ne sais pas. Peut-être j'ai oublié combien de temps me fallait-il pour apprendre le français. J'ai souvent besoin d'un dictionnaire pour vérifier les genres des mots (un ou une dictionnaire?).

À plus tard,
Lavoisel   Monday, April 12, 2004, 13:22 GMT
Je ne sais pas si mon anglais est meilleur que ton français, mais en tout cas je prends ça comme un compliment et je te remercie. Même si je sais que j'ai un bon niveau d'anglais, ça fait quand même du bien que des gens le confirment parfois. C'est encore plus réjouissant et rassurant si ça vient de personnes dont la langue natale est l'anglais.
Laisse moi te redire que ton français est très bon en tout cas, malgré quelques fautes ici et là qui sont tout à fait normales pour une apprenante.

nic   Tuesday, April 13, 2004, 11:48 GMT
I think it sounds better : "T'as 16 ans presque 17", the repetition of "ans" is not very good.
nic   Tuesday, April 13, 2004, 12:16 GMT
to Ginny,

Why don't you try to translate something french into english
nic   Tuesday, April 13, 2004, 13:47 GMT
why not : "You are sixteen, going on seventeen" in "Tu as 16 ans bientôt 17"?
nic   Tuesday, April 13, 2004, 14:13 GMT
Un dictionnaire
Lainie   Wednesday, April 14, 2004, 23:33 GMT
Ginny, Lavoisel, Nic:
would any of you be able to translate a french song into english? It's called "Ô Compagnons" by Raphaël Haroche. If you can, I'll post the lyrics here.